Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

November 27, 2008 Thursday Ziqa’ad 28, 1429

by Muzaffar Qureshi

KARACHI, Nov 26: Water shortage, especially in lower Sindh, is adversely affecting wheat sowing, which in other areas has started in full swing.

An official of the Sindh agriculture department confirmed on Wednesday that water shortage is the main problem in wheat sowing which has become a sensitive cash crop in view of the looming food shortage worldwide.

The areas affected by water shortage are: Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Matiari, Nawabshah and Naushero Feroze.

Growers complained that the fields situated at the tail-end of water canals were suffering most, and President of Sindh Abadgar Board Majeed Nizamani feared that the wheat target for year 2008-09 would not be achieved if water shortage was not tackled. The growers said that there was no real shortage of water, which has been created by mismanagement in water distribution and corruption in the irrigation department.

The water is supplied to influential and big growers offering incentives to the irrigation staff, they alleged.

Explaining the distribution network in the province, Nizamani said that the water available at the Guddu Barrage irrigates about eight million acres of land on both sides of the barrage through four major canals on the left side and three on the right side. The distribution network comprises about 210 water channels.

He said that the water shortage during the current wheat crop has been estimated at 35 per cent which means that out of four weeks, there will be no water supply to the farms for one week. However, he said that if judicious distribution of the available water is made, wheat target could be achieved.

Mr Nizamani said that otherwise factors, such as availability of phosphate and urea fertilizers, etc., were favourable for a bumper crop.

More land will be available for wheat sowing this year as growers of edible oil crop, who are not keen to grow sunflower in view of declining prices of edible oil in the world market, will instead contribute their land for wheat sowing.

Similarly, he said that if sugarcane is lifted by the sugar mills earlier, more land could be made available for wheat cultivation.

The government has fixed wheat cultivation area in Sindh this year at 2.5 million acres while the production target is 25 million tons.

Another leading wheat grower pointed to the corruption, which has reached its climax in the irrigation department.

The officials of the department are so powerful that the agriculture ministry finds itself helpless in dealing with the department.

He called for proper management of cultivation of various crops as is managed in Australia where the government fixed the land units for sowing of a particular crop, which is decided after assessing the domestic requirements.



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